Q&A with Rolf Nafziger, senior VP at Deutsche Telekom IBU
09 March 2018 | Sponsored content
Today’s fast-paced wholesale market requires a totally different skill set to that of just a few years ago. Rolf Nafziger, senior vice president of the International Wholesale Business Unit (IBU) at Deutsche Telekom, talks about how the unit is staying a step ahead
What is the main strategy of Deutsche Telekom IBU and its International Carrier Sales & Solutions (ICSS) division for 2018?
Our main strategy for 2018 is growth. We continually seek and evaluate opportunities to broaden our skill-set and to offer our clients the products they will need tomorrow. We understand that there will be technological and market changes ahead of us that will transform how international wholesalers operate. That is why we need to become more flexible and agile, to embrace change and enhance our ability to innovate. At the same time, we continuously look at our current processes and drive digitisation to offer standardised and efficient services to our customers.
What will be the company’s main focuses for the coming year, and what does it hope to achieve over the course of 2018?
For 2018, we have three main topics – security, digitisation and IoT – each of these at a different stage of maturity and always with a highlight on quality. The technical development of our security portfolio is very advanced – we already offer different security packages to our clients, providing a high level of customisation and efficient implementation. In 2018, we will work on digitising more complex processes, which will lead to a significant impact on lead times in order implementation, increased customer satisfaction and thus more clients.
IoT is probably the biggest megatrend we see, which will have a wide-ranging impact on the international wholesale business. However, with numerous possible application areas, the challenge is to identify the ones that will have the biggest potential for us – that is, for management of international connectivity and technologies that enable IoT. At the current stage, we have developed use cases that will probably be implemented during the next year. Aside from this, we aim to increase industry cross-cooperation to overcome challenges and more quickly develop innovations.
How does IBU/ICSS plan to grow ahead of the rest of the industry in 2018?
With our comprehensive IPX platform under continual development, we are paving the way for forward-looking technologies such as IoT, M2M and 5G applications. ICSS is taking a close look into the developing fields of IoT and roaming, so that we can adapt our technology and meet customers’ expectations as advances take place. For example, to offer customised IoT solutions, we’re working on ways to make our IPX platform more specific and intelligent. There has been a rising demand for handling IoT traffic differently from other traffic, so we’re looking into possibilities here too. One of our great advantages over competitors is that we have more than a decade of experience in the A2P and IoT areas, and so are able to support the seamless integration of multiple technologies.
And in addition to all the innovations we’ve achieved, we’ve been cooperating with several Deutsche Telekom affiliates on rate alignments to stop damage from arbitrage. I could go on and on, but think that would need a second interview!
How do you see the global wholesale environment as changing in 2018?
The market has been in the midst of transformation for a few years and this is accelerating. Therefore, from our perspective, we do not see 2018 as being very different from the last one or two years. Again, many international wholesalers will try out new technological solutions for their daily businesses. Additionally, several of these will plan implementation of new business cases originating from emerging technologies – such as IoT, big data or digitisation. Both activities are necessary to determine the most promising opportunities and represent significant steps towards how the future international wholesale market will work out.
What factors will aid growth of the international wholesale market over the coming year, and how do you see it as changing and evolving?
Wholesale has always been driven by its respective retail market. In other words, the acceptance of certain technologies in the end-user market is also of vital importance to the wholesale market. We can’t exactly tell when it will happen, but we are convinced that there will be key changes to the global wholesale market as we know it today. Some markets such as global voice will decline further, whereas other markets such as IoT are at the very beginning of their existence.
To be more specific, I believe we will see an even stronger price decline of traditional services. Yes, traffic is exploding, but there is fierce competition and low barriers to entry. That means we, as ICSS, need to offer higher quality and better security than others. We have to take advantage of new technology opportunities, even though these will not totally compensate for the decline of traditional offerings.
There will be a great challenge to keep up with technology shifts, such as that of SDH shifting to Ethernet to SD-WAN, or from 3G to 4G to 5G. This is why we will need to move to automation and digitisation, and to become much more efficient and cost-aware than ever before – and all of this needs to be helped along through consolidation, innovation development and partnering. These factors will certainly fundamentally change the way we think, plan and operate – a process that is already well underway at ICSS.
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